Why It's A Bad Idea To Leave Fruit Out For Hummingbirds

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There is something special about having a backyard filled with hummingbirds. These jewel-colored animals flit from one flower to the other, adding color and personality to the space. They make your garden seem almost magical, so it's no wonder people try different methods to attract hummingbirds to their gardens. The easiest way to do so is to leave out feeders with sugar water, which acts as an alternative for nectar. But sometimes people play with different substitutes to see what works best, like leaving out fruits. However, you should avoid doing so, since it can harm the hummingbirds rather than sustain them. 

That's because the fruit can quickly begin to rot and ferment, especially if it's left out in the sun. While they might provide sugar for the birds, it can also hurt them due to the spoilage and bacteria growth in the fruits. Unconvinced? Here is a deeper look into why you shouldn't leave fruit out for hummingbirds, and how to better attract them instead. There are much more effective methods than using your leftover watermelons and apples. 

Why you shouldn't use fruit to attract hummingbirds

It might seem like a commonsense solution. Hummingbirds love sugar, and fruit is filled with sugar, so they would probably love to pick at your leftovers. While it's easy enough to make a batch of sugar water for hummingbirds, you might be tempted to switch over to fruits if you have more than you can finish eating or have leftovers that are just starting to turn. But this could be pretty dangerous for your feathered friends since fruit is prone to rotting rather quickly. "Watermelon and other natural juices are likely to ferment or spoil rapidly and are not recommended," birding experts and conservationists Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman told Birds & Blooms magazine. "For the health of the hummingbirds, it's best to stick with simple sugar water and avoid experimenting with other items."

When fruit spoils, bacteria begin to grow and start the fermentation process. This can lead to health issues in the hummingbirds, such as bowel problems or tongue issues. The bacteria can also cause hummingbirds to contract several diseases, such as salmonellosis, which causes Salmonella, and aspergillosis, which attacks the respiratory system. It's the same reason why you shouldn't leave cloudy sugar water in hummingbird feeders. Doing so can allow the birds to come into contact with fungus and bacteria, leading to dangerous health problems.

How to attract hummingbirds instead

Rather than trying to attract more hummingbirds to your yard with the help of fruit, you can instead make your yard more attractive with flowers and trees. Hummingbirds go where there is nectar, so planting the correct plants will have them stopping by for a meal. For example, hummers especially love fuchsia, trumpet honeysuckle, and milkweed flowers. However, nectar and sugar aren't the only things they eat. They also get protein by eating insects, so they love to gravitate towards trees that house a large variety of bugs.  "Pagoda dogwoods and flowering dogwoods are great insect-supporting native plants," John Rowden, the senior director of the National Audubon Society, told The Washington Post. "And oak trees offer a smorgasbord of insects."

You can also attract hummingbirds by installing a birdbath in your backyard. However, it's not enough to just put out a basin with stagnant water in it. Hummers like to bathe themselves in mists or moving water, so you would attract more of them with extra features on your bath. To do so, you can invest in a solar-powered floating mister, such as this one from Amazon for $13. It sprays water from between roughly 16 inches to almost two feet. Simply plop it into the basin's water, and it will be sure to attract the local hummingbirds.